Monday, August 15, 2016

S'mores Drop Scones with Kerbey Lane Mix

S'mores Drop Scones.  What better summer treat to celebrate on this super-hot August day?

As a girl, one of my favorite things about going on camping trips as a Girl Scout was making ooey, gooey s'mores.  The sleeping in a tent part was ok & starting a fire was fun, but I loved the taste of a warm marshmallow & melty chocolate.  Best part of camping? I think so. :)  I even had a fascination with burning giant marshmallows on our gas stove as a pre-teen.  Because the only thing better than a toasty marshmallow is a crispy on the outside, liquid on the inside burnt marshmallow.  Ammiright?

These days, I prefer s'mores inspired baked treats.  Less messy & you can make them anytime.  No campfire required!

Today's treat is made even simpler, with the help of Kerbey Lane Buttermilk Pancake Mix.  If you've ever had the pleasure of eating in one of Austin's Kerbey Lane Cafes, I hope you tried the pancakes.  Light, fluffy with a hint of sweet (no syrup required!) Kerbey Lane's Buttermilk Pancakes are delicious.  Which is why I thought their easy pancake mix would make for a great base for these scones.

Man, I was right.  Along with the mallow bits (find them here) and mini chocolate chips, the pancake mix makes for a not overly sweet scone that's big on flavor, but has no added sugar.  And it pairs perfectly with a warm cup of coffee.

S’mores Drop Scones

Makes 12 - 15 large scones

1/2 cup finely crushed graham crackers
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup mallow bits (plus extra for topping)
3/4 cup mini chocolate chips (plus extra for topping)
1 to 1 1/4 cups half and half

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Whisk pancake mix, crushed graham crackers, baking powder and salt.  Add in mallow bits and mini chocolate chips, reserving a few extras to top the scones with before baking.  Using a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, mix in half and half.  Avoid over-mixing, and start by adding 1 cup of half and half.  If the mix is overly dry, add a little more half and half, a tablespoon at a time.  Once everything is incorporated, take two large clean spoons & drop scones onto parchment-lined baking sheets.  Be sure to leave ample room between each scone on the baking sheet.  After portioning out scones, top with extra mallow bits and mini chocolate chips.  This is key!

Place scones in oven and bake for 14 - 16 minutes, or until golden brown.  These are best served day-of.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Pecan Cookies with Oats & Coconut

Last week, Andrew, being the sweet husband that he is, brought me home a surprise from work.  The gift shop inside the hospital where he works had cookies & he got a pecan coconut cookie for us to share after dinner.

I thought it'd be a nice little treat, but I did not expect it to be really, really good.  Y'all, this was one of the best cookies I've had in a long time.  Cookies are my favorite dessert & very rarely do I turn down a tasting I feel I'm a little bit of an expert on cookie goodness.

This gift shop jem was soft, bursting with pecans chunks & had just enough coconut to make it super moist & chewy.  Absolutely delicious.  I didn't want to share with Andrew, but since he was nice enough to bring it home...I had too.

Since I wasn't able to indulge in the whole cookie....or the 10 others I'm pretty sure I could've gobbled up, I set out to make a similar cookie from scratch.  I decided to start with a soft oatmeal cookie & fill it up with lots of pecans & some unsweetened coconut flakes.  

I think I did pretty well.  The cookie stays soft, & the coconut, pecan mixture sets in with the oatmeal to create a nutty bite that still has a touch of chewiness.  I made these Sunday & brought them in to work, where they were gone before lunch.

This recipe comes together in just a few minutes too, as long as you remember to soften your butter ahead of time. I always forget & have to delay my batch!

Pecan Cookies with Oats & Coconut

Makes about 4 dozen

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 eggs
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup old fashioned rolled oats
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans
1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, cream together butter & both sugars.  Mix in baking soda, salt, cinnamon, vanilla & eggs.  Slowly add in flour.  Fold in oats, pecans & coconut, just until everything binds together, try to avoid over-mixing.

On parchment or silicon mat lined baking sheets, spoon out cookies using either a small scoop or two teaspoons, leaving an inch or so in between each cookie.

Bake 8 - 10 minutes.  Upon removing the cookies from the oven, leave them on the baking sheet for 2 minutes before moving them onto a cooling rack.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Quick Eats: Austin's Pizza now in H-E-B! + Instagram Giveaway

* Instagram contest has now closed *

Please note that the pizza I sampled & giveaway prize were provided by Austin's Pizza.  As always, all thoughts & opinions are my own.

Pizza, is there anything better?  I love going out to pizza parlors, making homemade pies with Andrew & even, for those nights when you need dinner NOW, frozen pizzas.  We try to always keep a pizza in our freezer for those occasions, but we've struggled to find a brand that we really like.

That's why I'm SO excited that one of our favorite local go-to's Austin's Pizza, now has frozen pies, right in your local H-E-B freezer section!

There are four varieties to choose from:

- classic pepperoni

- Brazos (Canadian bacon, pepperoni, onions, green peppers, jalapenos & feta)

- Downtown Special (pepperoni, sausage, black olives & mushrooms)

- MoPac (Canadian bacon, pepperoni, sausage, onions, bell peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms & olives)

Last night we tried the MoPac & man, was it tasty.  Especially when you consider it was frozen!  This is not your typical grocery store pizza.

The thin crust got toasty & crispy & the entire pie was loaded with toppings that tasted incredibly fresh.  The meats combined with all of the veggies, especially the bites of tomato, made for a not too heavy, delicious meal that went from box to table in less than 20 minutes.

You can find Austin's Pizzas exclusively in the frozen food aisle of H-E-B stores in the Austin, San Antonio, Houston & San Marcos areas.

* Instagram contest has now closed *

Also, I'm giving away a coupon for a FREE Austin's Frozen Pizza, over on my instagram page, so you can try this awesomeness for yourself.  I'll be picking a winner on Friday at 5pm CST, so be sure to enter!

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Sunday Adventuring along Hwy. 290

Sometimes you just get the urge to wander.

Wildseed Farms

I often get the itch to roam in the springtime, when it's warm but not scorching & the hill country begins filling up with wildflowers.  Moving to Austin was always in my plans, but it's not until I actually arrived here that I realized my favorite Central Texas wonder: the wildflowers.  There's something so magical about bar ditches filled with yellow blooms, bluebonnet fields & front yards adorned with poppies.  If you follow me on instagram, you will see my infatuation is real.  I have many, many photos of wildflowers sprinkled throughout my feed.

Recently, Andrew & I decided we needed to do a little Hill Country wandering.  We headed down Hwy. 290 on a breezy Sunday morning with two things in mind: pastries & poppies.


Wildseed Farms

We stopped at Pie-e-tea for a few goodies before heading on to Wildseed Farms, to check out their famous poppy fields.  Neither destination disappointed.  The flaky, rich pastries at Pie-e-tea would have been worth the trip alone & my latte was equally decadent & delicious.

Wildseed Farms, which is always on my list if we head down Hwy. 290, was overflowing with poppies & people.  We arrived to a packed parking lot, but the crowds weren't nearly as bad as we imagined when we pulled in.  We roamed around the giant grounds, checking out all of the gorgeous plants & pots for sale, before making our way to the fields.  Wildseed Farms has several fields of poppies, as well as rows of various other blooms scattered around the back section.

Walking among the wildflowers is a wonderful way to spend the day.  And though it was a little early for us to take advantage of, Wedding Oak Winery now has a tasting room set up on the Wildseed Farms grounds.  We will definitely be back to try out their wine.  

Wildseed Farms

Wildseed Farms

Wildseed Farms

Wildseed Farms

Wildseed Farms

Wildseed Farms

On our way back in to Austin, we decided to stop in & take the driving tour of the LBJ Ranch.  It's a really peaceful way to see a little piece President Johnson's life.  We walked around the original buildings, including the school house pictured below & even saw a few Longhorns & wildflowers.

Our day ended on a tasty note with BBQ from Stubb's at Graceland Grocery, a fun roadside stop along Hwy. 290.  A huge outdoor space houses lots of tables, a volleyball court & room for kiddos to run around.  We happily munched on nachos & a brisket sandwich with a side of mashed potatoes, while reflecting on our fun day trip.

LBJ Ranch

LBJ Ranch
LBJ Ranch

Stubb's at Graceland Grocery


12005 W. Hwy. 290
Austin, TX
6am - 4pm

Wildseed Farms

100 Legacy Drive
Fredericksburg, TX
9:30am - 5pm

LBJ Ranch 

100 Ladybird Lane
Johnson City, TX
9am - 4:30pm

Stubb's at Graceland Grocery

8600 W. Hwy. 290
Austin, TX
11am - 9pm

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Quick Eats: Caprese Panini Style Sandwiches

Did you know that it's National Grilled Cheese Day today?  These social media food holidays can be goofy, but when I hear about them it really gets my inspiration going.  After seeing some posts earlier today, I decided we need to observe this fun day with sammies for dinner.  Because cheese & bread are awesome.  And why not celebrate?

But we couldn't have just regular 'ol grilled cheese.  We needed fancy grilled cheese.  I love to make things complicated. :)  So, I came up with a little take on one of my favorite restaurant orders: Caprese Sandwiches.  We had shredded mozzarella leftover from homemade pizzas a few days ago, cherry tomatoes in the fridge & even some basil from a plant I had picked up over the weekend (Trying to grow some indoors herbs this year, wish me luck!) so after a quick trip to the store for ciabatta rolls, we were set.  I decided to add some balsamic to the bread at the last minute & I'm really glad I did.  It adds a nice depth of flavor to the sandwich & I love balsamic on just about anything.  It's delicious.

We made the sandwiches really shine but cooking them up panini-style.  We don't have a panini press, so any time we feel like making them, I just use two of our cast-iron skillets & the heaviest canned good I can find from our pantry.  You heat up your largest pan, load it up with the sammies, place the second pan on top & then add your unopened can to the top of your second pan to press down the sandwich.  It's a really simple method & makes delicious, crispy edged, gooey on the inside sandwiches, minus one more thing to store in my already cramped kitchen.

These quick sandwiches would be a great lunch, but they make for an even better, incredibly quick, tasty dinner that's made in literally minutes.  I ate mine while finishing up my reading (Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling) for this week's book club & it made for the perfect reading companion.

(P.S. I've been attending The Paper Craft Pantry's book club hosted by Stephanie Hinrichs of Interlaced Goods & it's so good & so fun.  If you're in the Austin area, you should join!  All of the info can be found on Paper Craft Pantry's website.)

Caprese Sandwiches

(Serves 2)

Ciabatta Rolls (4, cut lengthwise)
Balsamic Vinegar
Mozzarella Cheese (2 cups shredded or one large ball fresh, sliced)
Tomatoes, diced (I used 3 or 4 cherry tomatoes per sandwich)
Fresh Basil (1 bunch, diced)

Utensils: 2 cast iron skillets or heavy pans, the largest canned good item from your pantry (35 oz. cans of crushed tomatoes work well, but anything big will be great)

Slice ciabatta rolls lengthwise, shred/slice cheese & dice tomatoes & basil if necessary.  Heat your largest skillet/pan over medium high heat while assembling the sandwiches.  Take each piece of ciabatta bread & liberally sprinkle the inside portions with balsamic vinegar.  Then, arrange about 1/4 cup of cheese on each 'bottom' piece of bread.  Evenly add in tomatoes & top with basil.  Add on another 1/4 cup or so of cheese & finish the sandwich with the 'top' piece of bread.

Carefully place the sandwiches in the largest skillet/pan.  You may need to cook these in batches, depending on how large your top skillet/pan is.  You need the top skillet to completely cover the sandwiches, so that they can press down the sandwich to melt the cheese & help create a panini effect.  Carefully, place your second skillet/pan directly on top of your sandwiches.  Place your unopened canned good from the pantry on top of the skillet/pan.  This will help press down the sandwich.

Cook over medium high heat for 1-2 minutes, then very carefully remove the canned good & top skillet, & flip the sandwich over.  Replace the top skillet/pan & canned good & cook for another 1-2 minutes.  The cheese should be melted completely & the outside of the rolls should be toasted.

Once the cheese has completely melted, carefully remove the canned good & top skillet.  Remove sandwiches from the pan, cut on the diagonal if you wish & serve!

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

What's On My List? Small Goals for April

I'm the queen of list-making. I can plan & come up with perfect-on-paper solutions all day long.  When it comes to actually getting the things on my list done though, I struggle.  I get busy, get lazy or just plain forget about my to-dos & then weeks later I sulk about all the things I should've accomplished.  It's frustrating & it's become a silly little loop I've gotten myself into.

When I saw Nicole's April small goals post on her blog, Writes Like a Girl, I was so inspired.  I love the idea of setting a few achievable goals for the month ahead.  She also includes a reflection on the previous month's goals, without the 'everything wasn't impeccable' guilt.

What a wonderful idea?  I like the accountability of putting your intentions online & the idea of working towards progress, not perfection.  I often shame myself if things aren't exactly what I envisioned & it's a hurtful cycle that needs to stop.  The world isn't without fault & I can't expect myself to be.  Plus, what fun would life be if everything happened exactly the way you thought it would?

I've decided to follow in Nicole's footsteps & create a few small goals for myself.  Do you make monthly goals?  If so, I'd love to hear what you're working on in April!

April Goals

  • Get Moving -- In 2016, I'm trying to focus on my health & one of the most significant ways to do that is to get more exercise.   I've been walking, going to YogaYoga for a few classes, shaking it with a Zumba DVD & even jogging the teeniest, tiniest bit, but I want to commit to doing something every day. This past weekend, I got the sweetest little cruiser bike & I'm excited to ride around the neighborhood!

  • Enjoy the Spring -- One of my favorite things about living in Central Texas is the spring wildflowers.  I'm obsessed.  My sister calls me an old lady, but I really like stopping on the side of the road or pulling in alongside an open field & taking photos.  I'm going to take this as an opportunity to work on my Digital SLR camera skills, too.  There is a poppy field in Fredericksburg that is calling my name.

  • Create & Stick to an Editorial Calendar -- This has been on my to-do list for a while now, but this month I'd really like to sit down & spend some time planning out my blogs posts & coming up with some general direction for the next few months.  The other side to this coin will be actually sticking to the plan.  I'll need to hustle to make it happen, but I'm definitely up for writing, creating & cooking more!

  • Complete an Embroidery Project -- Last month I took a great Intro to Embroidery class taught by Allie Biddle, Bedthread Goods, at the Paper Craft Pantry.  I really enjoyed it & diligently worked on the bus, during my lunch break & even a couple of evenings to get my first piece (A sweet Marfa inspired teepee scene from class) finished.  Now, I've got tons of ideas swirling in my head about what I could make next.  I may have even bought some fun fabric/thread for a few projects.  I want to commit to a simple, but fun design & get it done! 

  • Make My Lunch the Night Before -- I don't know about y'all, but I am almost always running behind in the morning.  I hit the snooze button a couple of times & before I know it, I've left myself *just* enough time to shower, get dressed & grab a cup of coffee on my way out.  If my lunch is not completely made, packed & waiting in the fridge, I'm screwed.  Maybe I'll have a few snacks from my drawer for lunch, maybe a pastry & coffee or maybe I'll even spend way too much for something that doesn't taste great but is within walking distance.  All of these options are crap.  So, I'd like to commit to making lunch after dinner so that eating a good lunch is a non-thought. 

Thursday, March 31, 2016

How to Put In a New Lawn

Today the Home Made Austin reigns are going over to my awesome, handy husband Andrew, who’ll be talking about our latest home improvement project, re-doing our front lawn!  He’s been working on this perfect-for-spring project over the last few weeks & our front yard is starting to look soooooo good. It’s been really fun hearing the tips & tricks he’s learned, so I asked him to share them with y’all too!  -Krystal

Hello! I’m Andrew, the husband and home project coordinator of the house.  

I want to share my experiences in re-sodding the front yard.  It was just done and still has to grow to fill in, but is on track to be a beautiful lawn.

When Krystal and I bought this house, one of the things we both liked and disliked about it was the yard.  It was a smallish front yard (about 300 sq. feet), and a decent-sized backyard split into 2 levels because of a big hill.  There is a park behind our back fence which we love, and lots of trees as well.  However, the grass situation was very poor in both the front and back yards.  We loved the privacy, the view, the trees, and most of all, the opportunity to improve it and make it our own.

Our Lawn Before

Our Lawn Before

This winter we seriously started discussions on a complete re-sod of the front yard.  The size was small making this a cost effective project, and the grass had never grown much over 2 summers even with watering and care.  Perhaps the multiple years of lawn watering restrictions due to the Texas drought hurt, but there really wasn't much there to start with.  So I researched several types of grass that sounded like they would grow in our specific conditions.  I read about grass hybrids, seed vs sod vs plugs, optimal climate and shade requirements of dozens of grasses.  Turns out that was a waste of time as none of the local nurseries we visited sold any grass and the only place I could find any sod was Lowes and Home Depot, which sold St Augustine and Bermuda grass only.  We decided to go with the St. Augustine squares at Lowes for $1.99 a square.  They measured 2.5'x1.5' and I cut them into halves before sodding them.
St. Augustine is a beautiful grass that grows lush and thick in Central Texas. This variety of grass likes a lot of water, it's true, but the drought conditions have changed in the past year, so we’re not too worried about it being a problem.  
The next step was to till up the yard.  Luckily my dad has a half acre garden where he grows lettuces and greens, and could provide not only the tiller, but the expertise and operating experience.  With the right equipment, we tilled the yard with 2 sweeps in 20 minutes total.  We also tilled the area between the sidewalk and the street for a flower garden while we were at it. 

Since I also had bought 35 paving stones to extend my driveway by a foot, I dug out the space for those at the same time and put those in first.  I will go back and put sand down below and between them to level and finish them after the yard has dried out a bit and the stones have settled.

Grass sod was actually fairly difficult to find in South Austin in March.  We went to 2 garden nurseries and called another one with no luck before we found it at one of the big box stores.  But the price was right and they had it in stock.  Turns out each store gets a delivery on a specific day of the week and sells out usually within 48 hours so if you don't get enough at first (as I didn't) then you have to go back next week.  I ended up buying 60 squares over 2 weekends at $1.99 a square for a total project cost of $130 after tax.  I won't count it in the cost, but I went ahead and bought a new sprinkler and new hose too.

Sodding the squares was pretty easy once you get the hang of it.  I decided to cut each square in two, and leave 8-10 inches between them to maximize the space I could cover with my materials. Because the grass should spread pretty fast, I only had to level off an area half the size of the big pieces.  You want the level of the soil attached to the grass to be about the same level as the yard so each area has to be dug out 1/2 inch or more.  The corners are the most important. The technique is to dig the area a bit too deep, then add in extra dirt to the lower areas to level out the final product.  You really have to watch for high corners or low patches right in the middle.

If you think one piece is too sunken a day or two after setting the sod, you can still pick it up and add dirt to the low spot. After the first week you don’t want to disturb the rooting process so try to set them as level as possible the first time.  

They need a lot of water at first, so be prepared.  Water daily the first week, and then every 2-3 days after that until you are really seeing the grass root and spread.  After the grass starts to settle in, you can stick to watering once a week or so. 

I just finished laying down the last pieces a few days ago so at this point I just hope it does well, and grows beautiful and green. It’s been a good, fun project and I’m excited to maintain it and see how it continues. I also hope it gives us a place to play in the grass!

Thanks for reading, I will post more pictures of the lawn once it has grown and filled in!